Let me tell you, I could get used to this “wrapping up games” approach to playing MMOs. Two days of buckling down in Guild Wars 2 rewarded me with getting my Ranger through the last four chapters of season 2. With its conclusion, I feel quite content parking my character until Heart of Thorns comes out. Sure, I’ve got world completion to do, but I’d rather save that for when it might be earning me mastery points as well.
So. Season 2. I think most players would agree with me when I say that it was a step in the right direction after the weirdly fragmented season 1. There was a story that progressed, two new zones added, and a few interesting (but not genuinely compelling) mechanics added. The rewards were good, including the carapace armor and a free Black Lion chest key (which got me one of the new rare dyes). There was good use of secondary character development and a few good twists that I didn’t see coming.
Yet for all of that, season 2 wasn’t fun. It’s probably why I’ve been dragging my feet so long on completing it, because I felt as though I had to instead of wanted to. If I had to sum up my biggest complaints into a short list, it would be this:
- It was a small story that was spread over too much territory. Even worse, it only served to gap the end of season 1 with the start of the expansion, so there wasn’t any strong resolution.
- Fighting plant-based creatures sucks. Oh yes, please knock me down again. Please vomit an endless stream of red circles. Let me whack away at a vine and not get the eerie feeling as though I’m playing some sort of aggressive gardening simulator.
- While new zones are appreciated, neither of them were visually appealing and exciting to explore. Plus, the less said about GW2’s fixation with platforming, the better.
Again, I feel that Guild Wars 2’s narrative strength is in telling smaller, personal stories, such as with the earlier quests of the personal storyline or the occasional well-done event. I saw flashes of this in season 2 — the noble party, a character’s death, the reprise of Guild Wars 1’s ascension quest — but most of the run assumed that we’d be in awe of the return of the plant dragon and content to see things play out on a huge scale. At least for me, the larger it got, the more disconnected I felt. A big attack on the Pact’s base wasn’t a goosebump-raising moment but a tiresome slog through a slowly scripted encounter.
At least my distaste for the plant elves is warranted. I’ve seen some people a little irked that the Sylvari keep coming up as primary characters and villains, but really as long as ArenaNet’s going to continue on with the plant motif, that’s going to happen. Maybe the expansion will wrap up this focus and finally move us on to something else.
I ended up abandoning my longbow in favor of a shortbow for most encounters. Actually, I would have preferred to stick with my greatsword, but many fights seemed to favor a ranged approach due to nasty red circles and the necessity to strafe. Still, I’m looking forward to having a staff with the expansion, and I hope that it doesn’t take too much work to get to that point.
At least season 2 is done and that’s one more thing off my plate. Onward and upward!